If you’ve filled out a form on Google lately you probably have seen a brand new option when it comes to Gender. Instead of the standard Male and Female, people can now choose Other.
I just found a video about one of my town’s “others.” In it, then-Mayor, Stu Rasmussen is showing Statesman Journal reporter, Cara Pallone, the inside of his closets (as well as his handcuff collection.) Stu achieved international fame for being one of the country’s, if not world’s, first openly transgendered Mayors. He grew up in Silverton, runs the town’s only movie house, and walks Silverton’s streets dressed in a way which emphasizes not just his legs (which are enviable,) but also what he likes to call “the twins”—augmented breasts which stand out—literally as well as figuratively.
In most aspects, Silverton appears to be your average rural American town. It has the Elks, Kiwanis and the Lions clubs, is filled with churches, has a feed store, and a one lane train track that hauls grain and seed. It has cute parades featuring the high school band and local pets. It houses teachers and doctors and librarians and artists and folks who work for the state in one capacity or another. Your typical rural community, red white and blue bunting in July, Christmas tree lighting after Thanksgiving. Yet, in 2008 and again in 2010, Silverton residents voted in the most non-conformist of Mayors. They also came out in force when the Westboro Baptist Church came to Silverton to tell us we were all going to hell for having a transgendered Mayor. Many of the town’s businessmen dressed as women to confound the Topica, Kansas “Christians.”
I like that about Silverton. I like that once, while sitting with Stu at a garage sale, I watched him haggle with a farmer over a tractor. Stu had driven the tractor over and then put a pair of shiny red stilettos on the hood as bait. At first the farmer, dressed in overalls and seed cap, seemed taken back by Stu’s attire: a mini skirt, six inch heals, and a shirt cut so low it exposed a good canyon of cleavage. But within minutes the farmer and Stu were talking away about gaskets and plows and whatever else one talks about when talkin-tractor. A few minutes later, the farmer was in, he wanted the tractor, but only if Stu would throw in the shoes.
“For the wife,” he said with a wink.
My favorite line in the interview by Cara Pallone is when Stu tells her that typically two to three percent of the population of males are cross-dressers. “Which means on Halloween when you see a man dressed in a dress, if he knows how to walk in the shoes, he does it more than just once a year.”